The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985 Page: 436
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Methodism became one of the two pillars of an evangelical Protes-
tantism that became, in effect, the unofficially established religion of
that part of Texas north and east of the Nueces. Always finding time to
engage in ecclesiastical and theological fisticuffs with Baptists, "Camp-
bellites," and the occasional "holy-roller," Texas Methodists led the
finally successful crusade against alcohol in Texas, acquiesced in the
racial arrangements that followed Reconstruction, accepted with more
grace than many the inroads of higher criticism upon traditional re-
ligious beliefs, and established at Georgetown and Dallas two of the
state's better institutions of higher learning. In the twentieth century
Texas Methodism has become a textbook example of the declining
mainline Protestant denominations. In their last and best chapters the
authors portray a denomination that has seen its relative strength in
the state decline while being beseiged by homosexuals demanding the
right of ordination, by blacks and hispanics unhappy with the Metho-
dists' response to their demands for minority representation in the
denomination's judicatories, and, most important, by thousands of
evangelical Methodists attracted by new nondenominational forms of
religious activity and expression.
Although obviously a labor of love, the present work endeavors to
be an objective analysis of its subject and, for the most part, is suc-
cessful. After an introductory effort at discovering characteristics dis-
tinctive of Texas Methodists, the narrative proceeds in a traditional
chronological fashion. The authors are to be commended for dividing
that chronology evenly. Unlike far too many surveys of Texas topics,
this study gives as much attention to the twentieth century as to the
nineteenth. The authors attempt-well, religiously- to deal with the
racial and ethnic minorities within the denomination, and a series of
maps assist the reader in following the myriad permutations of confer-
ence boundaries within the state. Finally, the book reads well, not at
all what one might expect from a multi-authored work.
Still, there are problems. The book occasionally is too much a labor
of love. Historians outside the denomination will probably find too
gentle the discussion of Texas Methodism's support of slavery and will
surely question the effort to distinguish, in the late nineteenth-century
religious battles, between a rather benign Methodist "conservatism"
and a more virulent "fundamentalism" (pp. i 1, 212-217). While one
appreciates the space given to the twentieth century, too often that dis-
cussion is little more than a recital of institutional foundings and sta-
tistics with no effort to fashion from them any arresting theses. There
is virtually no effort to set Texas developments into regional or na-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 88, July 1984 - April, 1985, periodical, 1984/1985; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101210/m1/502/: accessed May 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.